LL Cool J released his debut album “Radio” on November 18, 1985. The album was produced by Rick Rubin and released on Def Jam Records. LL was 17 years old when this album dropped and is considered one of the greatest LP’s in Hip Hop History.
The first time we saw LL, was on “Krush Groove” where he only had one line yet stole the show with his performance of “I Can’t Live Without My Radio“. LL raps over a boom-bap beat and a Cerrone sample for a scratch later in the track. At 17, didn’t we all love our boom-boxes and try to get the loudest one possible to blast “way past 10”?
My radio, believe me, I like it loud
I’m the man with a box that can rock the crowd
Walkin’ down the street, to the hardcore beat
While my JVC vibrates the concrete
I’m sorry if you can’t understand
But I need a radio inside my hand
Don’t mean to offend other citizens
But I kick my volume way past 10
My story is rough, my neighbourhood is tough
But I still sport gold, and I’m out to crush
My name is Cool J, I devastate the show
But I couldn’t survive without my radio
Terrorising my neighbours with the heavy bass
I keep the suckas in fear by the look on my face
My radio’s bad from the Boulevard
I’m a hip-hop gangster and my name is Todd
Just stimulated by the beat, bust out the rhyme
Get fresh batteries if it won’t rewind
Cos I play everyday, even on the subway
I woulda got a summons but I ran away
I’m the leader of the show, keepin’ you on the go
But I know I can’t live without my radio
Rappers back in the day almost always had a sense of humor and they would put that humor into their songs! LL had 2 tracks off this album that were funny yet dope at the same time. The first was “You Can’t Dance” where the song samples the old school track “Apache” from The Incredible Bongo Band. He makes fun about guys that try to dance making themselves look like fools!
Why don’t you just nail your feet to the floor?
Homeboy, what’s the use?
Anytime you wanna step inside a party
First think of an excuse
You dance like a fat old lady
Not sayin’ that fat old ladies ain’t nice
But every time you try to get one move right
The old lady done did it twice
You can’t dance!
The other track is “That’s A Lie” where he tells Russel Simmons he’s a liar with all his exaggerations. The track samples a beat from “Owner of a Lonely Heart” from the modern rock group Yes.
Giant Jabber-Jaw, biggest liar I ever saw
You said you got a mansion, you don’t got half a floor
Professor of Super Lies, you can lecture at my school
You said you liked Felix Unger, sat down at the dinner table and drooled
Your story’s so remarkable, it shouldn’t be revealed
You said you had a Benz, you don’t got four wheels
That’s a lie
One of my favorite tracks off this album is “Dear Yvette” where LL writes a letter to a promiscuous girl that needs to slow down! The track samples “Atomic Dog” by George Clinton and I remember how much the bass pounded on this track! Woof!!!
Yo Yvette, there’s a lot of rumours goin’ around
They’re so bad, baby you might have to skip town
See something’s smellin’ fishy and they say it’s you
All I know is that you made it with the whole damn crew
They say you’re a man-eater during the full moon
Mascot of the senior boys’ locker room
They said Yvette walked in, there wasn’t too much rap
Her reputation got bigger, and so did her gap
Cuz girl your momma shoulda taught you better
I’mma sit down and write you a long letter
After a while you start to figure out that this album is beyond dope yet not one was video was made for this album. Videos were not needed when you have tracks like “You’ll Rock” and “Rock The Bells“, of course both on side 2!
“You’ll Rock” pounds with a dope boom-bap beat with a Cerrone sample for another scratch fest! Hype track and definitely a Top 3 track! Now, if you bought the remix single you would have an even better version with the “Frisco Disco” sample that sets it apart from the original!
I’m a professional producer of hip-hop songs
In case you’re unaware my beats are always strong
I’ll exterminate your crew if I don’t like you
With one rhyme I subdue my adversaries are through
I’m the best, fascinatin’ my names’ Cool J
I’m the royalty of rap, what else can I say
Experience, rhymin’ skill, plus my voice is on wax
Funky fresh party rocker, so let’s face facts
I’ll dust a rapper off if I require practice
Vocal cords so rough that I can eat cactus
Choreographer of rhymes, best of all times
Composition technican with a b-boy’s mind
Terrorizin MCs, destructions’ in my path
Make your girlfriend ask me for my autograph
I’m the mic dominater, best of all times
And you ain’t heard nothin’ till you heard J rhyme
The track that defines LL Cool J’s career is “Rock The Bells“. The track is bananas from the Trouble Funk go-go-beat sample to the AC/DC track that Cut Creator cuts up while LL spits,
L.L. Cool J. is hard as hell
Battle anybody I don’t care who you tell
I excel, they all fail
I’m gonna crack shells, Double-L must rock the bells
There is the remix for “I Need A Beat” (but in reality the original is better), his first love song “I Can Give You More” and the hidden track “El Shabazz – Three The Hard Way” where LL ends the first side of the album with a freestyle that had everybody putting the needle back to hear it over and over again! It has become one of the most sampled tracks in Hip Hop History!
So let’s do a little somethin’ like this
El Shabazz! Yo J! It’s time to rock a rhyme
What kind of rhyme? The kind of rhyme that (?) behind
I’ll rhyme it, I’ll mix it, and we both do fine
Take a skeezer to the (?) (?) Calvin Klein
El Shabazz! Yo J! Our rhymes are fly
How fly? So fly that they’re sweet like pie
And the pie is so fly, the girls will all wanna try
El Shabazz! Yo J! It’s time to rock our shit
What kinda shit? The kinda shit that made Wilson Flip
So you use a brush, I use a comb not a pick
El Shabazz! Yo J! El Shabazz! Yo J!
We gonna rock this mother fucker like Three The Hard Way
Like this y’all! This y’all, This y’all, This y’all
Dededede dededede this y’all
Now that you done bought it, ha ha ha ha
Check this shit out, Check this shit out
Yo, turn this shit on the other side, I’m tellin’ you, the other side is liver than this side
You like this side, but you’ll like the other side, cause the other side is better
Yo, Shabazz, is it live? It’s definitely live. Is it live? It’s live
It’s live? It’s live. It’s live, it’s live, it’s live, it’s live
Like this y’all, this y’all, this y’all, this y’all
Rock it to the beat, to the beat y’all
The album is iconic and was made by an iconic Hip Hop star. This album dropped when I was 14 so it has been in my collection for the majority of my life! It reminds me of being a freshman in high school and wanting the Jordans he wore on the back cover! Who would know he would turn out to be one of the longest tenured rappers in the game! LL must stand for Living Legend!